|Publication number||US7121464 B2|
|Application number||US 10/447,636|
|Publication date||Oct 17, 2006|
|Filing date||May 29, 2003|
|Priority date||May 29, 2003|
|Also published as||US20040241622|
|Publication number||10447636, 447636, US 7121464 B2, US 7121464B2, US-B2-7121464, US7121464 B2, US7121464B2|
|Inventors||Thompkins W. White|
|Original Assignee||White Thompkins W|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (14), Referenced by (12), Classifications (12), Legal Events (3)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
1. Field of the Invention
This invention relates to the field of projectile delivery systems. More specifically, the invention comprises an integrated weapon control system which precisely times the firing of two or more weapons in order to create a desired projectile delivery sequence at a target.
2. Description of the Related Art
The term “projectile delivery system” includes small devices, such as rifles fired by individuals, and large devices, such as howitzers. Such weapons are typically fired individually, though they may be aimed to concentrate their fire on a single target. Some automated firing systems have been developed to fire such weapons simultaneously. However, as the range to target may vary for the different weapons, simultaneous firing of the weapons will typically not result in all the projectiles striking the target at the same time.
In many instances it is desirable to have all the projectiles strike a designated target or targets simultaneously. A simultaneous strike may be needed to achieve complete surprise. A hostage situation is a good example of the need for a simultaneous strike.
The present invention comprises a system for precisely timing the firing of two or more weapons in order to create a desired arrival timing of two or more projectiles on a target. Global Positioning System (“GPS”) transceivers are used to determine the position of each weapon and report that position to a command post. Heading-to-target and ranging information is also preferably transmitted so that the command post is able to accurately fix the position of the target, and the range of each weapon to the target. Computations are then performed in order to determine the firing sequence needed to achieve a desired arrival of two or more projectiles on the target. Firing of the weapons is then performed automatically in order to properly execute the computed firing sequence. Interactive command and control data is fed back and forth between the weapons and the command post.
REFERENCE NUMERALS IN THE DRAWINGS
electrical firing position
mechanical firing position
R/F antenna harness
basic control box
remote fire trigger
auto fire panel
auto fire switch
advanced control box
touch screen display
The present invention is primarily intended to be carried out using rifles carried and fired by individuals such as those found in a tactical response team.
Electromechanical actuator 34 is installed in the forward portion of the mechanism. Rather than being directly connected to the sear, trigger 20 controls only an electrical switch. Selector lever 36 is pivotally moved between safe position 42, electrical firing position 38, and mechanical firing position 40. When selector lever 36 is in safe position 42, the weapon will not fire. When selector lever 36 is in electrical firing position 38, the unit is set to receive a fire signal from a remote command post. When in this state, trigger 20 is used as an “enabling” feature. The user points the rifle at the target. So long as the rifle is on target, the user depresses trigger 20. If the fire signal is received at that point, the weapon will fire. If the fire signal is received when trigger 20 is not depressed, the weapon will not fire. Thus, in order for the weapon to fire when selector lever 36 is in the electrical firing position, trigger 20 must be depressed and a fire signal must be received.
In some instances, the user will want to use the rifle conventionally with no control by a remote command post. In such a situation, the user moves selector lever 36 to mechanical firing position 40. In this position, the rifle will fire as soon as trigger 20 is depressed. The term “mechanical firing position” is used to indicate that the weapon can be fired by simply squeezing the trigger. For the specific embodiment described, an electrical circuit is obviously involved. Selector lever 36 can be used as a conventional safety by moving it rearward to safe position 42.
Electronics module 56 includes: a radio frequency (“R/F”) transmitter and receiver, a global position system (“GPS”) receiver, an electronic compass (indicating the precise heading of the weapon), and a microcomputer for processing data transmitted by and to the rifle. These devices are preferably housed within a sturdy and shock-resistant cylinder sized to fit within upper bay 50. Returning briefly to
Returning now to
Because the rifle sends and receives R/F data, the use of an antenna is desirable. The combination of barrel 16 and receiver 14 (which are typically locked together via a threaded engagement) makes a good antenna. R/F antenna harness 70 electrically connects a portion of main harness 65 to receiver 14. This lone contact is electrically insulated from the other circuits. It provides an electrical connection between electronics module 56 and the antenna assembly comprised of barrel 16 and receiver 14.
The reader will recall that electronics module 56 also contains a GPS receiver and electronic compass. These known devices compute the position of the rifle and the direction in which it is pointed (“heading”).
Electronics module 56 processes the video data, trigger status, rifle position, and rifle heading information. It converts these to an R/F signal and transmits them back through multi-lead cable 60 to main harness 65. They are then sent through R/F antenna harness 70. The barrel/receiver assembly then functions as an antenna and transmits the video image, trigger status, rifle position, and rifle heading information to a remote location.
A control station is needed to command several rifles. This control station can assume many forms.
The lowest row of lights comprise armed indicators 82. These lights illuminate for a particular rifle when that rifle's selector lever 36 has been placed in electrical firing position 38, meaning that the rifle's remote firing capability has been activated. The middle and upper row of lights indicate whether a particular rifle is on target and ready to fire. If the rifle is not on target or is otherwise not ready to fire (perhaps because of an intervening obstruction), no-go indicator 80 will illuminate. Once the rifle is on target and ready to fire, the shooter depresses trigger 20. No-go indicator 80 will then go out and on-target indicator 78 will illuminate. Different colors can be used for the different indicators. One example would be using green for the on-target indicators, red for the no-go indicators, and amber for the armed indicators.
At the very bottom of the device is power switch 90, which may assume the form of a rotary lock requiring a key. It switches on and off all functions. Just to the right of this device is a large rotary switch 76. Rotary switch 76 can be turned to one of four positions. These are: (1) Standby; (2) Safe; (3) Remote Fire; and (4) Auto Fire. In the “Standby” position, the circuitry remains active but no signals are sent or received. All the indicator lights are switched off. In the “Safe” position, signals are transmitted and received and the indicator lights are illuminated. However, it is not possible to fire any of the weapons.
In the “Remote Fire” position, the user is able to remotely fire one or more of the rifles (explained in further detail subsequently). In the “Auto Fire” position, control circuits are used to automatically fire the rifles once a set of predetermined parameters is satisfied. Auto fire panel 86 only comes into play if rotary switch 76 is placed in the Auto Fire position. It allows the auto fire capabilities for each rifle to be turned on or off using auto fire switches 88.
If rotary switch 76 is placed in the Remote Fire position, the user can selectively fire one or more of the rifles by pressing the appropriate remote fire trigger 84. These buttons are preferably covered by a safety hatch, as shown. The safety hatch would remain over the buttons until just before firing. Basic control box 72 performs a variety of other functions, which will be described in detail once an explanation of the entire context in which the devices are used has been provided.
Those skilled in the art will realize that modern user interface systems have gone well beyond the type shown for basic control box 72.
Below the status indicators is a row of remote fire triggers 84. These are used to remotely fire individual rifles. As for basic control box 72, they are preferably guarded by hatch covers or similar devices.
The primary user interface is provided by touch screen display 100. It provides a set of graphical menus for the user to select. The menus (which are displayed in a Windows-style format familiar to contemporary computer users) guide the user through processes carried out by the advanced control box. The user makes selections and enters data within the menus by touching the screen at a “pick-box” location. Alternatively, a pointing device such as an external mouse can be provided. A keyboard or numerical pad can also be provided. A computer is used to control all the functions of advanced control box 92, including the displays.
Tactical display 98 is provided to the left of touch screen display 100. Both touch screen display 100 and tactical display 98 are typically back-lit LCD's similar to those used in “notebook” computers. They are capable of displaying color graphics and text of a very high resolution. Tactical display 98 shows the position of all rifles. It can also show the position of targets, hostages, and other features relevant to the scene. Geographical Information System (“GIS”) data can be loaded into the control box and displayed on tactical display 98. Such GIS data typically includes street map overlays and satellite or aerial imagery.
The operation of the devices described previously is best explained using an example. As explained previously,
Advanced control box 92 is placed at command post 126 (which happens to be near one of the rifles, though this need not be the case). Advanced control box 92 receives GPS position data from each of the rifles. The GPS system employed is preferably equipped with the Wide Area Augmentation System (“WAAS”), which can obtain stand-alone positional accuracy of about 3 meters. In some instances, even greater accuracy will be desired. In that case, a reference GPS receiver is placed near the scene at a known point. GIS (Geographical Information Systems) data includes highly accurate position information for building corners, light pole positions, and other similar commonly-available reference points. A reference GPS receiver can be placed on such a point. As the GPS satellites orbit, small variations in computed positions are typical for stand-alone GPS receivers. All GPS receivers in the same area tend to experience the same variations. The reference GPS receiver (which is stationary at a known position) is used to cancel out these variations. As those skilled in the art will know, the incorporation of a reference GPS receiver allows the computed positional accuracy of other GPS receivers in the vicinity to be reduced to several centimeters. The use of such a system is now common in the field of surveying. Thus, through the use of a reference GPS receiver, advanced control box 92 “knows” the position of all four rifles within a few centimeters. Each position is displayed to the scene commander on tactical display 98.
Conventional radio voice communications are typically maintained between the scene commander and each shooter (common in the prior art). The scene commander would typically assign a target for each shooter using verbal instructions. In some instances, the scene commander may assign two or more shooters to a single target in order to achieve redundancy (and for other purposes to be subsequently explained). Thus, for each rifle, one target of the group of targets represents a “designated” target.
It is important for the operation of the present invention that the range from each rifle to its designated target be known. The range can be computed using several methods. First, videoscope 18 may incorporate a laser rangefinder. These devices, which are known in the art, use a projected laser and interferometric principles to compute the range to a target. This range information is displayed to the shooter in the videoscope and it can be transmitted via R/F signal to advanced control box 92. However, those skilled in the art will also know that laser range finders sometimes produce false reading when looking through glass. If the glass is dirty (thereby producing laser backscatter on its surface), the laser rangefinder may report the range to the glass panel rather than the target lying beyond it. For this reason, a second range finding method is also employed.
An example is helpful: First rifle 110 occupies position (X1, Y1). The heading of first rifle 110 lies along first trajectory 118, which is aimed to hit target 104. Assuming that north is toward the top of the page in the view, first trajectory 118 is on a heading of 88 degrees (using the conventional system of true north being zero degrees and counting upward in the clockwise direction).
Fourth rifle 116 occupies a position (X4, Y4) and is trained on the same target 104 as first rifle 110. Fourth trajectory 124 is on a heading of 11 degrees. The origin point of both first trajectory 118 and fourth trajectory 124 is known, since the position of each rifle is known. The angular heading information can then be used to determine the point at which the two trajectories intersect (commonly referred to as “triangulation”). This intersection point will be the position of the northern target 104. The same method can be used to determine the position of the southern target 104. These computations are updated continuously using a fast clock cycle. Thus, the computer within the control box is constantly determining position data for all four rifles and the two targets 104 it is then a simple matter to determine the range from each rifle to its designated target. This range information can be checked against range information provided by the laser rangefinders in order to verify its accuracy. If the two range values are close, then there is a good indication of accuracy. If, on the other hand, the laser information suggests a far shorter range to target than the triangulation computations, then there is a suggestion that the laser data represents the range to an intervening glass panel rather than to the target.
The depiction shown in
At this point, the computer calculates the range-to-target for each rifle. Next, it computes a time-in-flight for each projectile. It then computes a staged firing sequence which is required to place all the projectiles at their respective targets at the same instant. In the example shown, first rifle 110 must be fired first, followed by fourth rifle 116, second rifle 112, and third rifle 114. The delay between each rifle-specific firing command is computed so that all the projectiles strike their targets simultaneously. Of course, the other parameters are considered as well. The computer will not issue the firing sequence until all four shooters have depressed their triggers to indicate that they are “on-target” and have a clear field of fire.
The example presented is but one of many possibilities for using the system. As a second example—It is well known to rifle shooters that striking and punching through a glass window will alter a bullet's trajectory. While some compensation is possible, this phenomenon degrades accuracy whenever a target is a significant distance beyond the glass pane. The present invention can be used to reduce this concern. Employing the user interface, the scene commander can assign second rifle 112 and fourth rifle 116 to be “glass breakers.” These two rifles would be loaded with flat-nosed solid bullets. They can be aimed a bit higher to avoid striking an unintended target (obviously on a different trajectory than the one shown in the view). The computer then times the firing sequence to have a solid bullet fired by a “glass breaker” strike the glass pane about 25 milliseconds ahead of the conventional bullet aimed at the target. The “glass breaker” punches a hole through the glass so the target bullet can pass through unaffected. The firing sequence can then have the two target bullets arrive at their respective targets simultaneously.
Numerous other sequences are possible. In some instances, the scene commander might want to have a first bullet reach its target 10 milliseconds ahead of a second bullet, and so on. Those skilled in the art will also realize that many more rifles can be controlled by such a system. Six rifles could be employed, with one “glass breaker” punching a hole allowing two target bullets to pass through.
Additional refinements are likewise possible. In most situations, only the heading of each rifle will need to be considered. In other situations, however, the incline of the rifle will need to be considered (such as when one shooter is substantially above the rest). In artillery parlance the terms used are “azimuth” and “elevation,” with “azimuth” referring to the heading and “elevation” referring to the incline of the rifle. A digital inclinometer can be installed on each rifle in order to provide precise incline data which can be transmitted back to advanced control box 92. Altitude data would also be fed by the GPS system within each rifle. The incline data would be combined with the heading data in order to perform three-dimensional triangulation computations.
The present availability of small computers means that all the computational functions described can likewise be performed by basic control box 72 (as shown in
The illustrations presented have used rifles firing conventionally-primed ammunition, but this need not be the case. Electrically primed ammunition has been in common use for many years. Small rifles are presently being adapted for its use. The advantages to the present system would be obvious. Rather than using an electromechanical actuator to release a mechanical striker, the system could simply apply a voltage to the electrical primer of an electrically-ignited cartridge. The rest of the system's functionality would be identical.
The communication means employed to convey data between the rifles and the control unit can take many forms. The current state of radio frequency communications makes that technology desirable. Commercially available R/F transmitter/receiver units can be used. Some of the more advanced units allow high-speed data encryption so that unauthorized users cannot obtain the data. These units are also capable of filtering out unwanted electromagnetic interference in order to provide enhanced security and safety.
If the distances between the units are not too great, simple electrical conductors can be used. These can be analog conductors or a digital data bus. More advanced technologies can be used if electromagnetic interference is a concern. Those skilled in the art will know that most electronic communications equipment is susceptible to electromagnetic interference—at least to some degree. A sophisticated foe may even employ “jamming” devices to disturb the data communications. In such a case, fiber optic cables can be used to transmit the data. Such cables are light and flexible, and are virtually impervious to outside interference. Those skilled in the art will know that towed optical wires have been used to carry data transmissions over several kilometers (in the case of U.S. Army anti-tank missiles). Thus, such cables can be reliably employed in the present invention.
Current technology also allows the use of optical data transmission without cables. A line-of-sight transmitter and receiver pair can be fixed in position. An optical transmitter then sends pulses of light to an optical receiver. Such systems can handle high data transmission rates. Other technologies can obviously be employed. Though the communication means selected must satisfy the practical needs of the invention, it should not be viewed as critical.
The preceding descriptions contain significant detail regarding the novel aspects of the present invention. They should not be construed, however, as limiting the scope of the invention but rather as providing illustrations of the preferred embodiments of the invention. As an example, although R/F communications have been described, hard wires could be used to practice the invention. Thus, the scope of the invention should be fixed by the following claims, rather than by the examples given.
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|U.S. Classification||235/400, 434/23, 434/19, 434/21, 434/17, 434/16, 434/27|
|International Classification||G06F19/00, F41G3/26|
|Cooperative Classification||F41A17/06, F41G3/04|
|May 24, 2010||REMI||Maintenance fee reminder mailed|
|Oct 17, 2010||LAPS||Lapse for failure to pay maintenance fees|
|Dec 7, 2010||FP||Expired due to failure to pay maintenance fee|
Effective date: 20101017